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A Model of Ethnic Conflict

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  • Joan Mª Esteban
  • Debraj Ray

Abstract

We present a model of conflict, in which discriminatory government policy or social intolerance is responsive to various forms of ethnic activism, including violence. It is this perceived responsiveness captured by the probability that the government gives in and accepts a proposed change in ethnic policy that induces individuals to mobilize in support for their cause. Yet, mobilization is costly and demonstrators have to be compensated accordingly. Individuals have to weigh their ethnic radicalism with their material well-being to determine the size of their money contribution to the cause. Our main results are: (i) a one-sided increase in radicalism or in population size increases conflict; (ii) a one-sided increase in income has ambiguous effects depending on the elasticity of contributions to income; (iii) an increase in within-group inequality increases conflict; and (iv) an increase in the correlation between ethnic radicalism and inequality also increases conflict.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 253.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:253

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References

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  1. Francesco Caselli, 2007. "On the theory of ethnic conflict," 2007 Meeting Papers 162, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Joan-Maria Esteban & Debraj Ray, 1991. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 18, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  3. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath & Ernest Sergenti, 2004. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 725-753, August.
  4. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 1998. "On Economic Causes of Civil War," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 563-73, October.
  5. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
  6. Robert H. Bates, 1999. "Ethnicity, Capital Formation, and Conflict," CID Working Papers 27, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  7. Jean-Yves Duclos & Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2003. "Polarization: Concepts, Measurement, Estimation," Working Papers 46, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
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